- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 27, 2003

Here’s a quarter - call someone who cares

U.S. District Judge Lee R. West of the Western District of Oklahoma nixed the do-not-call list, citing some arcane regulatory issue in his narrow interpretation (“U.S. court voids ‘do-not-call’ list,” Page 1, Thursday). The telemarketers rejoice. Any telemarketer foolish enough to call someone who has expressed his dislike of this marketing practice deserves to be abused and scolded.

If this judge really feels he is correct, I am more than willing to call him to discuss his interpretation. If he will provide me with his home phone number, I’ll call him tonight at dinnertime. I’m certain most of the 50.6 million others registered on this list would also be willing to make this call.



DAVID SCHLOSSER

Arlington

In regard to your story about the do-not-call list:

Doesn’t it seem unusual that so many people are clamoring for the government to infringe on the right of a business to free commerce? I am no fan of the telemarketer; however, I worry about a society that cheers when the government interferes in the right of a company to sell its products (so long as the products are legal, of course).

Of course, I must admit that I am biased, because I am trying to use the good old-fashioned free-market capitalist way to stop telemarketers. My company is BlockACall, manufacturer of the InTeleScreener, a device that uses Caller ID to block and screen all incoming calls, not just telemarketer calls. As for us, we are happy to see the do-not-call list go. Now maybe people will realize that they shouldn’t rely on the government for their privacy and will be willing to look to us as a free-market alternative.

WADE JONES

BlockACall

Tulsa, Okla.

The Washington Times, in reporting Wednesday’s decision by Judge West to nullify the national Federal Trade Commission (FTC) do-not-call list, quotes Direct Marketing Association President and CEO Robert Weintzen as saying, “We believe the people who say they don’t want to be called should not be called. We have to figure out a way to make that happen.” The article also quotes Tim Searcy, executive director of the American Teleservices Association, as saying the FTC “stepped out of their bounds” by instituting the federal do-not-call list, to which 50 million Americans have posted their telephone numbers. These telemarketing lobbyists continue to claim that restricting their “right” to place annoying calls will deprive them of $50 billion in revenue annually. All of these folks seem to need help getting both their thinking and their facts straight.

When someone spends his personal money and time to install a device to foil telemarketers, typically a TeleZapper on his telephone line, he clearly has said he does not want to be called.

A Massachusetts-based supplier, Castel Inc., responds by boasting to its customers in the telemarketing industry that its new Direct Quest software circumvents the TeleZapper and also lets the calling telemarketer post a bogus telephone number or message to the resident’s Caller ID display. This bogus information allows the caller to dodge telephone company privacy services, which reject calls that do not provide Caller ID information. Individual subscribers pay monthly for those services. Direct Quest software will cost telemarketers about $2,700 per calling operator, so they may continue to call those individuals who clearly have said they do not want to be called.

When 50 million people, including more than 130,000 out of 550,000 residents of the District of Columbia alone, go to the trouble of putting their telephone numbers on the do-not-call list posted by the FTC, those individuals have stated clearly that they do not want to be called.

The direct-marketing people seem to be deliberately obfuscating the value to the economy of their annoying calls. They claim $50 billion annual income to them will be lost, with all of the corresponding jobs gone. Not quite so. The number they use so loosely is the total value of merchandise bought over the telephone, not the value of merchandise sold as a result, direct or indirect, of their annoying calls. Ask them to break out the value of merchandise sold on what they would define as in-calls separate from merchandise sold on their annoying out-calls. Their answer in every instance has been that this breakdown is not available.

It is an accounting shortcoming that is rather convenient for the telemarketers and that reminds one of the recent corporate accounting scandals and coverups. If the telemarketers did manage to produce the needed accounting breakdown, it would show a great many dollars spent on in-calls and very little, certainly not a single cent in my own case, spent as a result of their annoying out-calls. Multiply this by 50 million people, and their claim of losing $50 billion in annual sales is worse than absurd.

FRANK CHALMERS

Washington

Unfair comparison

Comparing President Bush to Abraham Lincoln is both ludicrous and irrational (“The presidential race,” Op-Ed, Thursday). Mr. Bush started an unnecessary war. Mr. Lincoln was trying to hold together a country that was fighting a civil war involving most of the population of the country. The article’s logic could be applied to any war involving a Republican president with any Democratic opposition. Is there any war Mr. Bush would start to which the author would object? If Mr. Bush decided to attack France as part of the war on terror, would this be acceptable?

The article states, “Mr. Bush, too, is resigned to unflinchingly prosecute a war which he did not start.” But Mr. Bush started the war in Iraq. Saddam Hussein did not attack the United States. In fact, Saddam has not attacked any country in the past 10 years. Saddam, as Mr. Bush eventually admitted, had nothing to do with September 11. “Pre-emptive attack” is a euphemism for starting a war. So please, Charles G. Kels, quit spinning. Mr. Bush is no Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln did not start an unnecessary war with a country that posed no threat to the United States.

J. D. HEALY

Falls Church

On the border of overpopulation

In a letter to the editor, Christopher Ferri (“Population roller coaster,” Thursday) states that the nation’s population would be 420 million by 2050. If we continue our present immigration policy, I suggest that it will fall on the high-end estimate of 500 million. If we track the Census Bureau’s estimates, the same high-end number, by the end of the century, would be a billion people — the present population of India.

The picture of life in the United States under this premise puts us right in the middle of Third World status. The quality of life for future Americans looks bleak, indeed, with our already overcrowded schools, hospitals and prisons crammed full to the seams. With all these people, we would have a dire food and water shortage caused by the lack of arable land and overtaxed water sources. Highways would be gridlocked and other infrastructure pushed to the breaking point.

If this is an America you find unacceptable, there’s still time to trim our overly generous immigration and ridiculous “open borders” policies. If Congress passes any of the “shamnesty” legislation currently on the agenda, that will only attract more illegal aliens to crowd ahead of those waiting to come in legally. We must review our immigration policy immediately and stop this self-destructive insanity.

BYRON SLATER

Border Solution Task Force

San Diego, Calif.

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